AWS Public Sector Blog

Open source in the fight against COVID-19

As governments around the world look for solutions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and cope with its impact, open source technology is playing an important role. Speed and scale have become critical factors as the urgency around diagnostics, treatment, and care increases. It’s humbling to see government organizations take quick action and overcome barriers that would normally have taken years of reform to shift. When resources are limited and the situation is evolving quickly, open source software and communities can help accelerate response.

Governments shouldn’t have to compete with each other, especially in the face of a common international emergency. If public sector organizations can all collaborate to share code, tooling, data, and approaches that work, then everyone’s response can be faster.

For example, government agencies are using existing open source services in their toolbox to address new mission-critical community needs. The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom launched a new text message notification service for individuals quarantined at home with suspected coronavirus symptoms using the open source GOV.UK Notify application. GOV.UK Notify has also been implemented in over 1,500 domestic public services, as well as by the Canadian and Australian governments.

Regional governments are also developing new open source tools, such as the Government of Ontario Self-Assessment Tool, in an attempt to help members of their community make safer and more informed decisions during this period. Because these resources are open, they can be replicated and reused. Without competition, we can work together towards a common goal—fighting COVID-19.

As we continue to work with public sector bodies around the world, AWS understands how valuable open source software and development communities are at this time. To accelerate the combined global response to COVID-19, we gathered examples of third-party open code, tools, and standards that reformers in the public sector can immediately use. We’ve included these in a new resource now available here: Open Government Solutions.

On Open Government Solutions, you can find open source and public resources published by government agencies and other public sector organizations around the world. These resources can help government agencies at all levels find solutions that have worked in other governments so that they can accelerate their digital transformation. Reusing what others have found to work enables governments to realize the benefits of open source solutions, such as increased agility and innovation, reduced costs, and improved efficiency. And most of all speed.

If you are a public servant trying to find ways to accelerate your programs, we hope Open Government Solutions will help you. We will continue to update Open Government Solutions as a resource for your development and innovation, and to enable ongoing collaboration.

To learn more, watch the video below on how open source technologies help governments deliver services faster, with more control, and at scale – making them key assets for governments responding to COVID-19.

Liam Maxwell

Liam Maxwell

Liam Maxwell is director of government transformation at Amazon Web Services (AWS), where he helps governments accelerate their modernization programs. Previously, he was the UK government's first chief technology officer (CTO) and served subsequently as national technology adviser. He has a background in technology leadership in FTSE100 and Fortune 500 business service companies, local government, and education. He’s adjunct professor of electronics and computer science at the University of Southampton.